As the rooms lighting were a fusion of red, gold, green and black it was almost as though that was the skin colours of those slowly assembling into the room. Well besides the lady who wore the colours of the nation’s flag as a dress.
The man shouting at the back of the hall with heckles for attention, along with those shouting “galamsey” represented a harmless shade of red. Whilst the chiefs, nana-noms, uncles and aunties in their finest kente were another shade of gold for the night. On the left at the top as a group of polished young gentlemen in their suits walked in it was a reminder of the shade of green pastures their parents had afforded them. So affordable much like our entry prices. Similar to the High Commissioners introduction the black star of the evening indeed he needed no introduction as he walked into the room nor as he mounted the podium to speak. However, the most remarkable of all was his cool brown jacket of which all who were surprised quickly found out about his doubts of the British weather.
Our president was in the building. A minute and a half of hailing “Nana Nana oseiyeiii…yeii aye” roared through the room as it dawned on us all that we were all part of something bigger than ourselves. Something beyond ourselves. It was a momentous feeling. One perspective couldn’t quite explain it for all. For the older generation they saw one of Ghana’s finest lawyers who was now president. Indeed ‘freedom and justice’ was being developed in their motherland. But for the second generation British-Ghanaians, we got to see the president. We got to hear him assure us that Ghana had potential beyond aid. That free education was being implemented into Ghana from this September. Active measures were being taken to stamp out corruption. Again, dealings at ports would now become paperless and electronic.
To give a proper translation of what this meant to second generation British-Ghanaians is to bring you into our world also. This assurance from the president meant that cousins we often saw fetching water and with poor English could now also and possibly hold meaningful conversations with us whenever we went back home for holidays. Most importantly Ghana would become relevant on the stage of the world, contradicting the concept of dependency of African states.
Essentially, Ghana had become ‘politically-cool’. The frequent mentions of our efforts and our necessary welcomed inputs made us feel part of Ghanaian politics. Politics that went beyond listening to criticisms we heard on the dining table or on the radio at home. Politics was about us. Ghanaian politics had instantaneously topped the charts with its hit single ‘The Diaspora’. This soared past the echelons of Sarkodie or Shatta Wale whose afrobeats records gave us a sense of pride in the UK before. We had switched management and this time our record would be high-class.
It made our younger selves repentant of ever wishing to have been from Caribbean nations rather than claiming the Ghanaian side of our descent with pride. Likewise, it campaigned and won with landslide votes to our future selves to expand our minds to the grandiosity of meaningful investments ‘back home’.
It erupted a stirring, a passion, a feeling to our present selves. That we now had no excuse. That we were more than, possibly, young black kids from underprivileged areas. Quite frankly, any connotations attached to us as such was meaningless whenever you looked back at the flag in that room.
By the end of the president’s speech the shades of the Ghanaian flag had illuminated itself again, this time amalgamating the past, present and the future of the nation. We were from a land where active measures to stamp out corruption was the shade of red. The conviction we all believed that Ghana was a country that would sustain itself financially beyond aid gave a different shine to our gold. The gold was so bright it also reminded us all about the fact that we had now become a beacon of exemplary democracy in Africa. Again, it shone to reflect our past victory of being the first Sub-Saharan African state to gain its independence from colonial rule.
This time the green was almost unrecognisable — quite easy to spot but almost unrecognisable. It was found in the graceful smile of the Honourable Shirley Ayorkor-Botchway, Minister of Foreign Affairs. As she sat confidently in her seat next to the president and as the only female on the panel she sat there with a great sense of belonging and poise. This green was a different shade of green. Nevertheless, what remained the same was our black star. Similar to his tone which was above monotone with a polished British twang and his charisma in assuring those in Central Hall that he was the man who had waited and the wait had taught him the wisdom with which he spoke and explained his delegation of a financial expert as his minister of health.
Even in his silence our black star glistened through the eloquence of his Minister of Finance, Mr Ken Offori Atta who mentioned initiatives such as the diaspora bond. Indeed, it was a great evening. Even though not all questions were asked, nor answers responded to it has spurred on a dialogue which should gain momentum over the next years.
Celine Henry (@celinea_henry)